What Is Written on the Tongue

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Pub Date 26 Apr 2022 | Archive Date Not set

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For readers of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a transportive historical novel about finding morality in the throes of war and colonization.

Released from Nazi forced labor as World War II ends, 20-year-old Sam is quickly drafted and sent to the island of Java to help regain control of the colony. But the Indonesian independence movement is far ahead of the Dutch, and Sam is thrown into a guerilla war, his loyalties challenged when his squad commits atrocities reminiscent of those he suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Sam falls in love with both Sari and the beautiful island she calls home, but as he loses friends to sniper fire and jungle malady, he also loses sight of what he wants most — to be a good man.

For readers of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a transportive historical novel about finding morality in the throes of war and colonization.


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ISBN 9781770416192

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Featured Reviews

This book is magnificent an epic novel describing Life under German colonisation in world war 2 and the Indonesian war of independence.A book to rival The English Patient I was drawn in immediately and surfaced only to sleep and Eat The book described the horror of war and occupation through the eyes of a young man who survives his teenaged years under German occupation in Holland during the hunger years .As soon as Holland is liberated and before he can relax and become a man in freedom he is conscripted into the Dutch army fighting Indonesian rebels to retain the Dutch hold on their colony . I found the book deeply moving and upsetting but at the same time the beauty of the Indonesian jungle and of the gentle character of the young man were touching and lovely . We are not designed for war but some have war forced on them ,this novel describes with deep understanding what this does to shape the emerging personality of this young man .The book has deep anti war sentiment which is strongly held but subtly described I was lucky to read an early copy on NetGalley Uk the book is published 26 April 2022 by ECW press

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A book set in both Holland during WWII and in the Indonesian war of independence (often called “Holland’s Vietnam”), we are treated with Anne Lazurko’s beautifully written novel which shows that nothing is simple when dealing with war. Sam Vanderberg is conscripted to serve in the move to quell nationalist rebels in Java after having lived through the labor camps during the German occupation of Holland. We see both events unfold through his eyes as he navigates the complexity of human morality and the depth of what makes a flawed human being. I was not educated on the postwar events in Indonesia and found this novel to be interesting as it detailed this part of history. Thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press for the ARC to read and review

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What is Written on the Tongue is an epic novel that confronts the reality of war through the story of conscripted soldier Sam Vandenberg. I was completely unfamiliar with this period of post-WWII history but the storytelling and setting was so vivid have definitely broadened my horizons - a win for any historical fiction novel. Through Sam's personal experiences the author explores the intensely human aspect of war and how often the people who face the most traumatic experiences on the ground are the people who never wanted to go to war in the first place. The grim realities of the cost of war and how atrocities can occur on both sides were brought to bear and at times was extremely moving.

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Wow. Just wow. This is truly an incredible story following Sam, a Dutch soldier in Indonesia during the Indonesian War of Independence. It alternates between his experiences as a soldier in Indonesia, and as a teen living through the Nazi occupation. This is an excellent exploration of the effects of war and colonialism, from both the perspective of the soldiers and the victims. This is a story which truly grapples with the rights and wrongs of war, and how it changes people. If I could give this more than five stars, I absolutely would. I was floored by this novel. Not only is the story compelling, but the writing is fantastic. Truly, I absolutely recommend this if you are a fan of historical fiction or war fiction. Thanks as always to NetGalley, ECW Press, and Anne Lazurko for the ARC. I absolutely enjoyed it!

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I thought I was neither a fan of war fiction or historical fiction but that was before I read this book. I absolutely devoured it. When reading is immersive there's really no greater pleasure. And the author takes you completely to Indonesia and the Netherlands with Sam. I was also able to get my husband to read this book and he isn't the world's biggest bookworm. And he loved it too! We were able to discuss points in history we weren't previously aware of, which was great. I hope others read this book and enjoy the brilliant writing and enveloping plot.

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